Review: Batgirl #50
[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino, Wade Von Grawbadger, Mick Gray, Scott Hanna, Marguerite Sauvage & Aneke
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire & Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Becca Carey
Reviewed by: Sean Blumenshine
All good things must come to an end, as we wrap up this run of Batgirl with one final oversized celebratory issue! In the aftermath of “The Joker War,” Gotham is left in pieces that need to be picked up by Barbara and Alejo’s team…but is Gotham a city worth saving anymore, and how much longer does our girl have it in her to keeping fighting for it as Batgirl? Then, if Barbara is to ever give her relationship with Jason a chance, she knows she has to face him and finally make amends with the act that crippled him.
Joshua Middleton’s cover is amazing. I love that it looks like a painted movie poster. It’s gorgeous.
The issue contains three stories each with their own art team. And all three teams did great work. Emanuela Lupacchino is one of my favorite artists so I naturally loved her work on this but all of the art is solid throughout the issue.
The second story is an interesting meta commentary on Batgirl’s role with the DC Universe. Batgirl is always there in some capacity. But an argument could be made that DC never prioritized developing her as much as some of the other characters. Batgirl didn’t have a solo series until the early 2000s and Babs didn’t have one until 2011.
Many writers and artists have done terrific work with Babs in the last decade. But, at a company level, I am curious how much of a priority she is. The story could also be how readers potentially view her, purely as a counterpoint or sidekick to Batman and thus, not worth as much. Cecil Castellucci’s run has put Babs in a lot of unique scenarios and stories so I enjoyed this one dealing with the attempt to define Babs as her own, unique hero.
The final story is a lot of fun. I love the Birds of Prey and it’s a shame how much the New 52 underplayed Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. It’s just fun to see these characters hanging out in a lower stakes adventure.
I’m not sure how I feel about the first story. It’s interesting and there’s some good stuff. But something about it just felt off to me. Maybe it’s just me but Batgirl’s final issue being so focused on police reform and current politics is a little strange. It feels less like a celebration of Batgirl and more like Castellucci has something to say and is using Babs as an avatar for it.
And that would be fantastic if Castellucci got to tell that story. But, because it’s the final issue, this is something Barbara is going to care about for this issue only and it will probably never get brought up again. I wish this had gotten to be an actual story on its own and not have to tie in with Joker War and rushed to a conclusion when DC decided to end a good chunk of their line.
Additionally, I don’t like how hostile Barbara is to Dick. Her relationship with Jason is all about reflection and forgiveness. But none of that applies to Dick, I guess. The entire scene in the Batcave felt weird.
This is a solid issue. I like anthologies and I’m always happy when they happen. I enjoyed the second and third stories quite a bit. The first story disappointed me; I don’t think it has the room to properly breathe and develop. And as the finale, it didn’t really give me any satisfaction. Overall, it’s an enjoyable read but not the best goodbye.